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Out of the Box Ways Districts are Addressing the Teacher Shortage

business man asking for helpIn recent years, school districts around the country have been facing unprecedented levels of teacher attrition, leading to the current shortage within the field. Having less success with traditional recruitment and retention strategies, many school districts are brainstorming new and innovative ways to keep top-quality talent in the classroom. Overall, these strategies tend to focus on improving recruitment and retention by offering incentives, expanding the candidate pool, and easing the stress of the teacher certification and education process.

Here are seven ways some school districts are addressing the teacher shortage in 2022:

Open the Door to Retired Teachers

One creative way many schools are aiming to address the teacher shortage is by inviting retired teachers to return to the classroom without giving up their retirement benefits. The Memphis-Shelby County School District was able to reduce their teacher vacancy rate to just 3% by opening up this opportunity to experienced teachers (Porter, 2022).

In an effort to provide more flexibility to retired teachers who don’t want to commit to a full year, some schools are also offering 120-day contracts. While this is a more temporary solution, it does allow schools additional time to find permanent replacements (Torres Guzman, 2022).

Pave the Way for New Programs

Investing in the development of new programs can be a game changer for school districts by both attracting new talent and creating a pipeline for future talent. Grow Your Own Programs, for example, partner future teachers, such as high school students and school staff members, with experienced teachers to allow them to gain hands-on experience and training in the classroom (Porter, 2022).

Some districts are aiming to address the teacher shortage at the root. By incentivizing more students to enroll in education programs by offering scholarships, grants, internships, and job placements after graduation, schools can help ensure that they’ll have an easier time filling teacher vacancies in the future. To encourage students to remain in the program, grants and scholarships often convert to loans if students do not complete the agreed-upon teaching requirements following graduation (Randazzo, 2022).

Find Ways to Expand the Candidate Pool

Seeking out teacher candidates from other states can play a key role in helping school districts fill vacancies. New Jersey, for example, is temporarily addressing the teacher shortage by hiring out-of-state teachers to give virtual lessons while students receive support from in-class aides. Alabama has also begun honoring out-of-state teacher licenses as well as allowing former educators to reclaim expired certifications (TNTP, 2022; Torres Guzman, 2022).

Hire Non-Certified Teachers

The teacher shortage is encouraging school districts to overlook previously required teaching certifications, especially for educational staff who have demonstrated a commitment to helping students. Most programs of this type allow college students, paraprofessionals, substitute teachers, and other staff to teach in the classroom while pursuing teaching certifications (Torres Guzman, 2022; Porter, 2022).

Randazzo (2022) points out that flexibility is key with this approach, as many of these professionals do not have the time or resources for a full-time certification program. Partnerships between school districts and universities, such as the Denver Public Schools partnership with the University of Colorado Denver and Western Governors University, can provide versatile hybrid or online programs that help non-certified teachers acquire credentials while working full-time.

Turn to Veterans

Florida school districts decided to take the challenge of filling over 9,000 teacher vacancies and turn it into an opportunity to support veterans, first responders, and their families. Veterans and first responders with at least some college credit are now able to acquire temporary five-year teaching licenses, opening up a significant new candidate pool for filling positions (TNTP, 2022).

Increase Teacher Salaries

Increasing the competitiveness of teacher salaries is a route that some districts are taking to attract and retain high performers and ensure that teachers feel appreciated in the role. For example, Metro Nashville Public Schools recently increased their starting teacher salary to $48,000 while New Mexico announced that starting teacher salaries will now range from $50,000 to $70,000. Other schools are offering bonuses and stipends to encourage teachers to continue on in their current role (Porter, 2022; Torres Guzman, 2022).

Develop Future Leaders

Creating a path for professional growth and promotions can be a great motivation for teachers to stay while also developing a pipeline for school leadership. Some schools are offering teachers early contracts for school leadership positions within the next few years. Prior to the contract start date, teachers are supported with professional development to prepare them for their new role (Randazzo, 2022).

Each school district has its own unique set of needs and challenges, but district leaders should be prepared to think outside the box. Testing out new strategies for teacher recruitment and retention can help your district mitigate the effects of the teacher shortage and ensure that students are continuously supported with minimal disruptions.


Porter, Regan. (2022). KCK high school gets creative to fill teacher shortages. Fox 4.

Randazzo, Sara. (2022). Schools Are Looking in Unusual Places to Deal with Teacher
Shortage. The Wall Street Journal.

Salai, Sean. (2022). K-12 schools fill the teaching void with classroom assistants, virtual
lessons, military vets. The Washington Times.

TNTP. (2022). Addressing Teacher Shortages: Practical Ideas for the Pandemic and Beyond.
TNTP: Reimagine Teaching.

Torres Guzman, Dulce. (2022). Tennessee’s public school systems look for creative solutions to
teacher shortages. Tennessee Lookout.

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